Today is the day we begin, and your number becomes attached to my name. Today, I am thirty-nine. I do not know how to write you this letter without also somehow writing to eight and ten and twenty-seven and thirteen, because to write to the future is to return to the past, our own navigation devices forever pointing all directions, moving through time as if carried by the weightlessness of water. So hello. I am here, thrust backward and pulled forward, into matters of meaning and the unknown.
I want to say that I am glad that I am here, walking into your arms. That there are so many changes happening and still yet to come and it can feel like kaleidoscope chaos, shape after shape after color sprawled and illuminated shape. And so there is something that feels good about having the day that is both a closing and opening. I will never be thirty-eight again. How terrible. How wonderful. And then there is you.
I want to say that I am here and will stay. I am staying this time, because it’s all I have and it is what matters most. Whatever happens or does not happen, I am not leaving myself. So we are in this together, remembering old stories and re-envisioning old myths, carving out a different possibility entirely from the wood which will always be wood, scarred and sanded smooth.
I want to say I will show up and stand strong and put up a fight. If the mystery begs me to come slip inside the space of silence and drink what is unnamable, then it is also true that the lover in me is sometimes found in the fighter and when the lines are drawn, I know what side I will be standing on. Because as they cry out in the streets, if you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor. So let’s just say, I’m not neutral.
I want to say that there are these moments when I can see the outlines of things, like flashes of images that come and say here, this way. How I see the desk where I sit and write and Susan Speaks and maybe, just maybe, the story I’ve waited to tell my whole life finally finds its form. How I see a lamp lit street and a request and the first snow. How I see learning and a voice emerging and I do not know how far away she will feel, but I do know she is there waiting up ahead for me to come back, home. How I see the imprint left after the dancing, and the late night when the work roared, and the questions and the craving and the pelican swooping across sky and coming to stand in the still water.
I want to say I am sorry. I love you. Thank you, even now before their happening, for all the moments when you will come and surprise me with your recklessness and wonder, your unapologetic humanity and inarguable truth, your need and your lungs and your graceful reckoning.
I want to say we will make something spectacular with these days, and that the math of time will reveal a broken open belonging, and we will remember to be kind.
I want to say all these things, and I do not know. I hope so. I seek. I build. I devour. I stand on the ground and stare at a star filled sky, gaping in wonder and aching for witness. But I do not know. So all I can say is that we can also go back in time and find all the torn and still tethered places, all the ways of staring in the face of the unknowable, every time I fought and lost and won, all the pounds of my flesh I carved off to appease a forsaken god called sanity, all the hallways that lead to nowhere and all the sublime and inexplicable survival which tossed me to a shore, foreigner and found, filled with savage knowing of the terror grief and yet nothing but reasons to live. They are all there. They are the maps and the places where the map will always and forever fail and we are left to forage and flail. They are the secrets and the scars in the hands and the blister on the lip from biting down to hard. They are the wound that does not heal and the way forward into what comes next. They are the gift, and the great cost, and the leaves that felt like mana one afternoon after everyone else had left and I thought, “this is the entrance to everything.”
I suppose you and I don’t get to our introduction, merge into number and name at this point in life, without loss and mad love. And maybe that is why I feel some kind of revelation in having arrived here, into you. We are human. We touch and are touched. We affect and are affected. We are marked and marred. We learn or don’t learn, and we bleed when cut and we are remarkable in the brilliance of our beauty and the messiness of our soft want and unmasked offering. Though I have no explanation, only the maps and the places where all the maps will fail, the past which was once me, I woke up to you this morning. For the love of all things known and unknown, I did arrive, and I am here. Here, where we are a mystery even to ourselves, as you are a mystery to me on this day, on the cusp and on the closure. And I love you, and all the names I’ve known and numbers I’ve traveled that brought me to you.
There is a vast blue in front of me, cloud covered as if the whole world might be lit from within, streaming secret messages and hieroglyphics through sky. Thank you, for this. Thank you for welcoming me. Thank you for having me. May we grow wise and wild together.